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The Last Mile

mile-marker1For the last several months I have been training for the Dopey Challenge. The challenge is to run a 5K, 10K, half marathon, and full marathon over four consecutive days at Disney World. I joke that they called it the “Dopey Challenge” because it was more politically correct than calling it the “Stupid Idiot’s Challenge”. My training runs have given me plenty of time to think, and it occurred to me the other day that starting a business is a lot like running– no matter how far you run, the last mile is always the hardest.

It was only four short months ago that I announced I was going to re-enter the startup scene. My new idea was FilterSnap— a subscription service that sends replacement air filters to its customers when it is time to change them. With FilterSnap you no longer need to remember when it is time to change your air filters, and there are no more trips to the store just to realize you don’t know what size filters you need, or that the store is out of your size.

Needless to say, the last four months have been pretty busy (my excuse for no blog posts in the last two months).  Here is a partial list of what I have been up to:

  • Logo created (narrowing over 500 submissions on 99 Designs down to 1 logo is harder than it seems)
  • Competitors identified, critiqued, and monitored
  • Website designed, tested, re-designed, tested again, and then launched
  • Talked to potential air filter vendors
  • Site visit to air filter vendor
  • Two weeks of Google AdWords and Facebook ad testing
  • Started writing a subscription billing system, got about 60% done
  • Found an off-the-shelf subscription package to use, and implemented it into website
  • Wrote hundreds (maybe even thousands) of lines of code
  • Set pricing, tested it, changed it, tested it again, then changed it again
  • Tested the final website on over 50 combinations of browsers and operating systems
  • Learned to hate Android with a passion

On November 21st I clicked the button, and FilterSnap was open for business.  To be honest, it was a bit anti-climatic.  All that work, all those hours, all those line of code, and the simple click of the mouse button set everything I had been working on into motion. There were no fireworks. No customers lined up down the street waiting for me to open. No launch party. Just a combined feeling of excitement and apprehension. Was it really ready?  Will anyone sign up? Will I succeed or fail?

I had entered the final mile of my startup. All of the months of planning, building, and preparing had gotten me here, but now that the doors were open (if a website had doors) the real work was just starting. The last mile for me is finding the best way to reach the customers that I know want the service I have built. It is pushing every day to be in a better position than I was in when the day started. It is ignoring those voices in my head that tell me I have no clue what I am doing.  It is doing everything I can to make my startup a success.

This last mile will be harder than all the miles that came before it. But, just like in running, the reward of finishing is worth the fight to get there.